India’s Delicate Diplomacy: Navigating the Complexities of the Israel-Hamas Conflict in Rafah

Author: Rajveer Singh Payak, 2nd Year BBA LL.B Student at CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Delhi NCR


The Israel-Hamas conflict has escalated at the Rafah border crossing, the only exit from Gaza into Egypt, worsening a severe humanitarian crisis. Historical tensions, including the rise of Hamas, frame the situation. An Israeli airstrike on May 26, 2024, killed 45 Palestinians, prompting global condemnation and highlighting the need for aid. Ongoing military actions have caused significant casualties and displacement, overwhelming hospitals and hindering relief efforts. Israel’s strategic moves aim to weaken Hamas but raise humanitarian concerns. The U.S. supports Israel with caution to minimize civilian harm, while Spain, Ireland, and Norway recognize Palestine as a state, advocating for justice and UN representation. India’s diplomatic approach is crucial in balancing geopolitical interests and humanitarian needs. The international community must pursue a sustainable, just resolution, emphasizing dialogue, compromise, and adherence to international law to alleviate civilian suffering.


The Israel-Hamas conflict has deep historical roots, stemming from the complex dynamics of the Middle East region. Beginning with the decline of the Ottoman Empire in 1917 and the subsequent establishment of Mandatory Palestine, the struggle for sovereignty and self-determination has been central to the narrative. The influx of Jewish immigrants, encouraged by the Balfour Declaration, intensified tensions between Jewish and Arab communities, ultimately leading to the Arab-Israeli War of 1948.

Hamas, a Sunni Islamist militant organization, emerged as a significant player in Palestinian politics following its electoral victory in 2006. Fueled by a strong anti-Israel sentiment, Hamas has been engaged in a protracted struggle against Israeli occupation, advocating for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The conflict dynamics are characterized by recurrent bouts of violence, often triggered by contested religious sites or provocative actions, and punctuated by intermittent ceasefires brokered by international actors. 

The humanitarian implications of the Israel-Hamas conflict are dire, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas maintains control. Tight border controls imposed by Israel and Egypt have exacerbated humanitarian crises, leading to widespread deprivation and suffering among Palestinians. Despite numerous attempts by the international community to broker a lasting peace agreement, the conflict remains unresolved, with deep-seated grievances and territorial disputes persisting. 

The future prospects for peace in the region remain uncertain, with the path to reconciliation fraught with challenges. Achieving a negotiated settlement will require a commitment to dialogue, compromise, and respect for international law. As efforts to resolve the conflict continue, the plight of ordinary civilians caught in the crossfire underscores the urgent need for a sustainable and just resolution to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Recent Developments in Rafah

On May 26, an Israeli airstrike targeted an area designated for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of 45 people and injuring 249 others. This attack has sparked global outrage and condemnation amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu referred to the attack as a “tragic accident” but pledged to continue the war on Gaza. Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris said that the word “tragic” could not adequately describe the intensity of the bombing that set fire to a tent camp near Rafah, killing forty-five Palestinians. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the state of affairs in Gaza a “humanitarian catastrophe,” alerted the international community to the possibility of starvation, and urged Israel to enable the secure and unfettered passage of humanitarian aid via all crossing points. The strike infuriated French President Emmanuel Macron, who declared that there are no secure locations in Rafah for Palestinian residents.. Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin criticized the refusal to allow aid in sufficient volumes amid the attack, labeling it as “barbaric.” The action was also denounced by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, the latter of which emphasized that the Rafah strike may impede efforts to mediate a truce and the rescue of hostages. 

Earlier, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive as part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, a charge Israel denies. Israel’s military stated that the strike, based on “precise intelligence,” targeted Hamas’s chief of staff for the West Bank and another official involved in deadly attacks on Israelis. Following the strike, Israel also attacked tents in the Al-Mawasi area west of Rafah on May 28, resulting in at least 21 deaths. An attack on May 27 also killed several people. Hospitals in Rafah are overwhelmed with bodies and the wounded, with officials describing the situation as increasingly difficult to manage. 

On May 29, Israel’s military announced the seizure of a strategic corridor along Gaza’s border with Egypt near Rafah. Following the death of at least 37 people on May 28, a social media campaign gained a lot of attention. Israel responded by launching the “Where were your eyes on October 7?” campaign, alluding to the October 7 attacks, which were led by Hamas and resulted in the deaths of at least 1,200 people. Meanwhile, Spain, Ireland, and Norway have recognized Palestine as an independent state. According to Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares, “justice” for the Palestinian people is at stake in the establishment of a Palestinian state. Additionally, Palestine has asked to be represented in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). A draft resolution that is anticipated to be approved by September 2024 would give Palestinians some extra rights and advantages, such as a seat in the assembly hall among UN members but not the ability to vote. However, the UNGA alone is unable to confer full UN membership.

An important turning point in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has been reached, with major military actions occurring near Rafah. Recent developments have seen Israeli forces advancing into the city, raising concerns about the humanitarian impact on the civilian population. Even with these developments, the US insists that Israel has not exceeded President Joe Biden’s “red lines,” which would result in an end to arms sales to Israel.. Millions of people across the world are sharing ‘All Eyes On Rafah’ on different social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and others. The emphasis on the humanitarian effects of these activities and the extensive international response is captured in this term. 

The “All Eyes on Rafah” campaign condemns Israeli attacks in Gaza, highlighting the severe humanitarian crisis there. Israel replied by initiating the “Where were your eyes on October 7?” campaign, referencing the Hamas-led attacks on October 7 that killed 1,200 Israelis. With at least 21 individuals killed, including 12 women, in Israel’s latest strikes in Rafah, this exchange highlights the worsening violence. Millions of Palestinians have fled their homes and over 36,000 have died as a result of the violence, which has significantly escalated the continuing conflict. Israel’s operation in Rafah involves incremental advances into the eastern and central parts of the city with the goal of targeting Hamas combatants and infrastructure. Even with heavy bombing, the US continues to provide military support since it does not consider this to be a full-scale invasion. However, the fighting has resulted in a large number of civilian deaths and relocation, which has drawn criticism from throughout the world. There is pressure on the Biden administration to impose tighter guidelines on aid, highlighting the need to guarantee accountability and reduce the impact on humanitarian efforts. Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip, is the site of the operation.On May 6, 2024, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) started its planned ground operations in Rafah. Israel wants to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas and defeat its militants. The seizure of a strategically important peak with a view of Egypt’s border signifies a major territorial achievement. Israeli forces have advanced into the heart of Rafah and are still moving west, especially into the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood. The IDF disputes carrying out a full-scale invasion, which entails substantial ground operations and massive troop movements. 

At least 45 Palestinians have died as a result of the recent Israeli onslaught on Rafah, majority of them were women, children, or old people. This episode took place in the midst of a conflict that is still continuing strong and has already claimed a substantial number of lives—since the conflict started in October of last year, there have been over 35,000 deaths in Gaza. Understanding Israel’s Rafah operation’s intentions in the larger context of its ongoing confrontation with Hamas in Gaza and its strategic interests in the area is important. Israel aims to dismantle Hamas infrastructure, target Hamas’ military infrastructure to degrade its capabilities, neutralize Hamas fighters, eliminate key operatives and disrupt command structures, secure strategic territory, control Rafah to prevent smuggling and enhance border security, create deterrence, demonstrate resolve to deter future attacks from Hamas, and send a political message, asserting Israel’s strength and commitment to security. 

India’s Stance

The White House Spokesman, John Kirby, declared that Israel had not gone beyond American red lines, which include refraining from conducting a significant ground incursion into heavily populated sections of Rafah. Prioritizing humanitarian concerns, President Joe Biden had earlier issued a warning that he would restrict Israel’s access to weapons if it entered Rafah’s population centers. A recent airstrike resulted in the deaths of at least 45 Palestinians, including women, children, and the elderly, in an airstrike on a camp for displaced people. The Israeli Defense Forces claimed the strike targeted two senior Hamas officials and suggested that a fire might have resulted from a nearby Hamas weapons store explosion. Kirby stressed the need to prevent innocent casualties by calling the aftermath photographs “heartbreaking” and “horrific.” The U.S. State Department requests that the strike be thoroughly investigated. 

Regional governments, including Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, strongly condemned the strike, labeling it a violation of international law and suggesting it is part of a deliberate policy to make Gaza uninhabitable. According to UN estimates, around a million people have left Rafah, but hundreds of thousands are still there, subject to escalating military actions and shelling. The situation has resulted in significant civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis, with numerous reports of dismembered bodies and serious injuries among non-combatants. Numerous UNRWA infrastructure, such as health centers and logistics bases, are severely damaged by the hundreds of thousands of displaced people. There are major ramifications for both humanitarian situations and regional stability for the ongoing, unstable, and unstable situation in Rafah. The United States of America maintains its support for Israel’s right to self-defense, but it also places a strong emphasis on reducing harm to civilians and holding those responsible for non-combatants accountable. The world community is nonetheless on guard, calling for a stop to the fighting and the delivery of vital humanitarian relief to Gaza’s impacted communities. As the conflict intensifies, striking a balance between military goals and humanitarian concerns will be crucial to determining future geopolitical dynamics and the region’s efforts to achieve peace.


The Israel-Hamas conflict, particularly in Rafah, underscores the urgent need for a sustainable, just resolution to alleviate civilian suffering. With deep historical roots and complex geopolitical dynamics, achieving peace requires sustained dialogue, compromise, and respect for international law. India’s diplomatic approach is crucial in balancing geopolitical interests and humanitarian needs, advocating for a peaceful resolution and the delivery of essential aid. The international community must prioritize humanitarian concerns, ensuring accountability and minimizing civilian harm while pursuing long-term peace in the region.


What is the Rafah border crossing and why is it significant?

The Rafah border crossing is the only entry and exit point between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. It is significant because it serves as a critical passage for people and goods, especially humanitarian aid. The crossing’s closure has severe implications for the delivery of relief supplies to Gaza, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.

What are the recent developments in Rafah?

Recently, the Israeli military has taken control of the Rafah border crossing, stationing tanks in the area. Israeli airstrikes have targeted Rafah, leading to significant civilian casualties and global condemnation. The humanitarian situation has deteriorated, with hospitals overwhelmed and basic necessities in short supply.

What triggered the recent escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict?

The recent escalation can be traced to various factors, including Hamas-led attacks on Israel on October 7, which resulted in significant Israeli casualties. Subsequent military actions by Israel, including airstrikes and ground operations, aimed at targeting Hamas militants and infrastructure, have intensified the conflict.

What are the humanitarian implications of the conflict in Rafah?

The humanitarian implications are dire, with thousands of civilians displaced, significant casualties, and widespread destruction. Hospitals and infrastructure are severely strained, and the restriction of aid delivery has led to severe shortages of food, medical supplies, and other essentials.

What is India’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict and the situation in Rafah?

India has maintained a delicate diplomatic stance, balancing its strategic relationships with both Israel and the Palestinian authorities. India supports the two-state solution and calls for dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflicts. In the current scenario, India is likely to advocate for humanitarian relief and a cessation of hostilities.

Why is the Rafah border crossing often a focal point in the Israel-Hamas conflict?

The Rafah crossing is a focal point because it is the main gateway for Gaza’s population to the outside world, primarily to Egypt. Its control and operation are critical for humanitarian aid and the movement of people, making it a strategic target during conflicts.

What are the historical roots of the Israel-Hamas conflict?

The Israel-Hamas conflict has deep historical roots, dating back to the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the establishment of Mandatory Palestine, and the subsequent Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Hamas emerged as a significant force in Palestinian politics following its 2006 electoral victory, advocating for an independent Palestinian state and engaging in a prolonged struggle against Israeli occupation.

What is the international legal perspective on the conflict in Gaza?

International law emphasizes the protection of civilians during conflicts and the necessity of humanitarian access. Many international actors view the blockade and military actions in Gaza as violations of these principles. The International Court of Justice and various UN bodies have called for adherence to international law and accountability for actions that harm civilians.

What are the future prospects for peace between Israel and Hamas?

The future prospects for peace remain uncertain, with deep-seated grievances and territorial disputes continuing to fuel the conflict. Achieving a negotiated settlement will require sustained dialogue, compromise, and respect for international law. The ongoing violence and humanitarian crisis highlight the urgent need for a sustainable and just resolution.

What are the strategic goals of Israel’s operations in Rafah?

Israel’s operations in Rafah aim to dismantle Hamas infrastructure, neutralize militants, secure strategic territory, and prevent smuggling. These actions are intended to degrade Hamas’s capabilities and deter future attacks, while asserting Israel’s strength and commitment to security.

India's Delicate Diplomacy: Navigating the Complexities of the Israel-Hamas Conflict in Rafah

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